Joan of Arc was in a tough situation. Falsely accused of crimes against the church and state, she was sentenced to burn at the stake. What was her dying wish? For God to strike these lying dead-beats with holy fire?
Not at all. The dying wish of Joan of Arc was for a priest to hold up a crucifix at eye level!
Pretty strange, isn’t it? Where would she have come up with a bizarre prayer?
The surprising answer is, “the book of Lamentations!”
But before we look at the prayer, let’s first look at the story behind the prayer…
It all began in Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah had the audacity to speak forth the Word of God, and because that Word wasn’t what the king’s princes wanted to hear, he was cast into a dungeon.
Word got back to the king that his princes have thrown the prophet into a pit, and he commanded an Ethiopian named Ebed-Melech to rescue Jeremiah. The Ethiopian had a kind heart. He knew that the rope he threw down to Jeremiah will cut into his arms and hand, so he threw down rags to put under the rope, and Jeremiah was lifted safely from the pit. I would invite you to read the entire story as it is recorded in Jeremiah 38.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were to find myself in a dungeon, my prayer would likely go something like this: “Lord, deliver me from this pit, from these ungrateful people, from this thankless ministry!” And upon my deliverance, my prayer of thanksgiving would definitely be: “Thank you, Lord, for getting me out of that hideous hole!”
Jeremiah’s actual prayers of help and of thanksgiving are recorded in the book of Lamentations. While in the pit, Jeremiah’s prayer went like this: “I called on Your name, O Lord, From the lowest pit…’Do not hide Your ear From my sighing, from my cry for help.'” (Lamentations 3:55, 56b NKJV)
Interesting, isn’t it? Jeremiah doesn’t ask God to deliver him, he asks God to simply hear his cry of help!
And upon his release, Jeremiah’s prayer goes like this: “You have heard my voice…You drew near on the day I called on You, And said, ‘Do not fear!'” (Lam 3:56a, 57 NKJV)
Did you catch that? Instead of praising God for his deliverance, Jeremiah is thanking God for–drawing near! He’s thanking God for–His presence! Jeremiah’s deepest desire in that pit was the presence of the living God!
And it was this same desire that drove Joan of Arc to ask for a priest to hold a crucifix up at eye level. The deepest desire of her heart was also just that: The presence of the living God!
Friends, when we find ourselves in the midst of dire circumstances, what if, like Jeremiah and Joan of Ark, our prayers changed slightly? Instead of saying, “Lord, take away this cancer,” what if our prayers went like this: “Lord, be with me through all of these medical tests. Hold my hand through the pain, hold me tight as I learn to take things one day at a time!”
Instead of praying, “Father, give me a better job,” what if we said, “Father, this is the job you have given me, and I am grateful for it. But Lord, You know that I am not able to support my family on this job. Lord, help us to feel your presence through this time! Help us to learn to depend solely on You for our provision!”
Or instead of praying, “Lord, please remove _____ from my life so he/she will stop bullying me,” what if our prayer went like this: “Father, be with me as I go through the abuse that ____ hurls my way. Comfort me, hold me up, help me to realize that words will never hurt me, and nothing will change how you feel about me! Lord, help me to love ____ and to be an example of Your love and mercy and grace, so that he/she might learn to love you, too!”
I believe that this type of prayer would not only help us get through our situations, but would help us to fall head-over-heels in love with the One who gave it all. They would help us to learn to depend upon Him 100%, and they would help us to be shining examples to the unsaved world around us. In the end, when God does deliver us from our situations, I believe, that like Jeremiah, we would then be able to say, “I called on Your name, O Lord, From the lowest pit. You have heard my voice: ‘Do not hide Your ear From my sighing, from my cry for help.’ You drew near on the day I called on You, And said, ‘Do not fear!'” (Lam 3:55-57 NKJV)
What impossible, ugly situation are you in right now? Have you been thrown in a theoretical dungeon? Is everyone around you pacing about the hypothetical stake you are tied to, throwing on the bundles of theoretical dry wood and then drawing aside as someone approaches with the “torch?” Why not follow the example of Joan of Arc? Why not try the Jeremiah solution today!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.